The Almighty PR–It Does Not Make You A Runner.

I am a runner. Let’s just get that straight right off the top.
brooks pure cadence blue_im a runner john bingham
Now, all things considered, I am a slow runner. I’m perfectly okay with this! I know this is a relative term because compared to your pace, I may be considered fast. OR some may not even see me as a runner; my pace in their eyes may label me as a jogger, or at best, a fast walker. {Yes, I’ve had people tell me that before.}

After some discussions on Twitter this past Sunday, the question, “What kind of runner doesn’t care about her PR?!” crossed some minds after I tweeted about not caring about mine. “She’s no runner at all in that case—she’s just out for a stroll! All runners, if they’re runners, care about PRing!” Ugh, and just like that, this blog post was born.

First Half Marathon
After my first half marathon in November 2012. Happy as can be! And if I don’t PR this coming Sunday after my second half mary, oh well!

I beg to differ. No, I don’t even beg. I’m just telling you straight up, in my opinion, ALL runners DO NOT care about PRs.

This is NOT to say that I don’t care about reaching goals, being better than I was yesterday, or feeling a sense of accomplishment. I do. Hellooooo, 85 pounds off this frame, remember??? I most certainly set goals & crush them, strive to be better {and healthier} than I was yesterday and every day since, work hard every day to hit my pillow feeling that I accomplished everything I intended when the day began.

But to me, and call me naïve if you’d like, I DO NOT have to set a Personal Record every time I race. That does not make me a runner. That does not make you a runner. Sunday, Twitter was all a-flutter with the letters ‘P’ & ‘R’. I could read every emotion out there and they seemed to all hinge on the Almighty PR. If the runner PR’d, others flocked to congratulate her (or him), tell her speed was the measurement of success (yes, I really saw that one, ugh), and that next time, she would have an even better PR!!! BUT, if the runner didn’t PR, there was this overbearing, looming sense of “not being good enough” coming from both the runner herself “I just did okay; I didn’t PR” or “I finished, but my time wasn’t good enough” or “I sucked—I couldn’t do better than 9 minutes a mile” (ugh, really lady?) AND those commenting. “You’ll do better next time” or “Ugh, that’s too bad about your time” or “Races suck when you don’t PR; I mean, they’re fun and all, but we all want that PR—I feel for you!” (again, REALLY lady?)
No 2 runners are the same color
Just for a fleeting moment, I thought, “Well good grief!! Maybe I’m not a runner then, because I don’t care about ANY of that. I just run to run. I like races, have fun running them, am proud to be out there period, take my pics, collect my medal, and go home happy.” Does how I think make me less of a runner?

Nope. Just as PRing doesn’t make somebody more of one. It makes you faster, but in the end, a runner is a runner. If someone is to be congratulated for running fast; why does there have to be this sense of a pity party coming if someone else ran slowly? Can’t we celebrate runners as a whole? Fast, slow and in between?

And I’m not talking about Olympic track stars here. Yup, speed is their job. I get that. But for the rest of us, umm, it’s not a crisis to not PR. {Yeahhhh, I also saw somebody call it a crisis on there.} A crisis is what happened at the Boston Marathon—and at least that day nobody was talking about a PR. People were appreciative to still have their legs and feet PERIOD–to walk, jog or run another day. And then one week later, it went right back to PR talk as usual. I just like to look at the bigger picture of things, is all.

I don’t mean to come off as a Debbie Downer raining down on your PR Parade–not at all! Take it, own it, rock it—you worked for it!! But realize those of us out there who don’t PR every single time OR especially don’t care about it, STILL love running just as much as you and we STILL give it our very best. Yes, we cross the finish line long after you and we may only just beat the sweepers. But we, like you, are STILL runners, too.

A PR doesn’t make or break that title.

Comments 21

  • Amen! You already know I agree with you, and I’m really happy to see someone else feels the same way.
    Anyone who tries to knock you down for HOW you run is just insecure. How you run is your business, and doesn’t make you any less of a runner.
    Karen @ Yellow Turtle Fitness recently posted..Lemon-Ginger Sesame Chicken SaladMy Profile

  • Thank you so much for writing this!! I saw someone complain about their 8:30 pace being “so slow.” Seriously? That’s like sprinting for me! Being fast does not make you a runner. At least we’re out there doing it!

  • Thank you! I am SLOW when I run but I am a runner. I am a runner with EIA. My lungs don’t like it, so I am slow. I was 44 when I decided to learn. This old, abused body is slow. I’m just happy I cross the finish line! My 17 – 15 minute mile is just right for me! Thank you!

  • Wow…you need to find some more supportive Twitter peeps! 😉 I agree that a PR isn’t everything. But I do think that pushing yourself to improve has a lot of value. It is just another benchmark, but not the only one. I have run 20 half marathons and my favorite performances were not my PR. I look back on one and was proud because I stuck to my race plan and ran hard. Another one I paced a friend to HER PR. Yet another race is something I look fondly at because it was really difficult and I pushed through without quitting. I believe that it is important to set a goal and reach for it. If finishing is your goal, then celebrate it with gusto! At my age, PRs are few and far between, so I need to find other things to celebrate.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Lisa (Mom to Marathon) recently posted..Into the LightMy Profile

  • You and I – we’ve always been on the same page when it comes to running. You’re absolutely freakin’ right you don’t HAVE to PR in a race to be a runner. Here’s how I see it: I don’t HAVE to PR to be a runner or to have a “great race”. All I need is to finish feeling strong. Someone once told me that finishing a half in 3:02 meant I WALKED that race. High, assbag, have you ever checked what a fast walking pace would get you in times? Over 4:00. AND I was injured. Anyways. Moving on.

    Here’s where I explain something, though…someone saying, “…but I didn’t PR…” may be feeling down because they didn’t get one when they were hoping to. At least she didn’t say, “…but I didn’t PR, so I’m not a runner”. And people saying, “You’ll do better next time!!” may just be trying to pump her up so there IS a next time (because yes, when we look for that PR – I know I do sometimes – and don’t get, it can be discouraging for next time). Of course, I wasn’t any of the commentators yesterday, but as I read your post, I suppose my “take everything with a grain of salt” approach kicked in. If someone I knew didn’t PR and felt down about it, my first response probably WOULD be that “you’ll do better next time! you’ll get your PR!” I DO want a PR in my next race…I’m pushing for one…but I don’t feel the need to PR in everything, every time. When they happen without even trying, EVEN BETTER. lol And heck yeah, I’ll share the news! But I think it’s important to remember, just as with the fact that we don’t have to PR to be runners, wanting a PR, going for a PR, or getting a PR (no matter how many times or whether it’s in a race or not) does NOT always mean we expect all other runners to do the same or they can’t consider themselves runners.

    Basically, any moron who thinks you MUST PR and always strive to be faster or better to be considered a runner probably voices that opinion loud and strong. lol I’ve heard ’em. I’ve laughed at ’em. (And I’ve personally nixed them as comrades of mine. Who wants that in a community member?)

    Run your ass off, Cherie. I’m with you in the “slow” lane. <3
    Melissa @ Live, Love, & Run recently posted..3 Ways a Partner Can Change Your Running.My Profile

  • Hmm I talked about this exact topic a few weeks ago. It seemed that everyone in the twitterverse had PRed one weekend and was looking forward to the next PR goals. I had PRed the same weekend. I was so excited. But wanted to enjoy it before setting another goal. You have accomplished so much Cherie. You have goals and you have your eye on the prize. The thing is that everyone’s prize is different. Anyone who says you have to try to PR in every race is likely to burn out and suffer injury soon. I live to work for a nice PR and I am way excited when I do, but I race for different reasons as well. In this community we should all be supportive and respect each others path. There is no one way to success, instead many roads. You should enjoy your road. The PR fiends should stop preaching their way or the highway. All in all, can’t we all get along? There is plenty of room on the road for all of us. Xoxo keep kicking butt!

  • I couldn’t agree with you more. This mindset extends to other forms of fitness as well. Some people can’t feel good about themselves unless they’re tearing others down. Sad

  • My PR is finishing a race – period. If I make it in good time Yay me! If I don’t make it in good time BUT I still finish? Yay me!!! I’m a slow runner too and I really don’t care what others think because it’s all about me lol it’s all about completing the miles for me lol whether it be a 9 min mile or 12-13 min mile, I still feel good that I was able to get out there and do it, even if some of my runs are crappy. I still did it :))

    • I’m a runner every time I get out there and run, whether it be a race or part of my daily routine.

  • The whole PR situation that is competitive and stressful. I am definitely a runner that cares about her PR and her time, but often wish I could learn to just relax.

    My favourite thing about running is that the only real person you are in competition with is yourself. Whether that be just to finish the race/distance up and right smiling. Or to get some kind of epic PR.

    What you get out of running is up to you and I think Running is actually so much more that racing and PRs. Running is where I found self-acceptance, confidence, power, and health. Those are the real reasons why I run.
    Krysten Siba Bishop (@darwinianfail) recently posted..Training Tuesday #3My Profile

  • This is such an awesome post! I don’t care about PR, running is something fun that I do, I just care that I finish the race.
    Nellie recently posted..Getting Gorgeous 2013 – A Day Of GlamourMy Profile

  • Okay, I set time goals for every race. Sometimes I want to beat my PR, and sometimes I just want to finish within a certain time. It motivates me, and makes me run better. And beating my PR is always a nice little bonus.

    But to me, running is about the trees and the flowers and the water features along the side of the course. It’s about the policemen holding up traffic, and the volunteers in their orange vests, and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts holding out cups at the aid stations. It’s about the sun, and the sky, and the scenery, and the breeze blowing in my face. It’s about the fun conversation I’m having with my running partner (THAT was a first on Saturday – never done that before!) as the miles roll past. It’s about charging up the uphills and stretching out on the downhills. It’s about feeling tired and feeling good, both at the same time. It’s about the little discoveries you make along the way, the ones that make you think “Hey, I should drive up here afterward and see this again.”

    To me, the PR is like the maraschino cherry on top of a really good banana split. Sometimes I eat it, and sometimes I leave it in the bowl. And if it wasn’t there, it certainly wouldn’t ruin the dish.

  • I’m going to be honest – I listened to several of my friends talk about running for 12 months or more and when I went to go run with them I was surprised at their pace. I hadn’t run as far as they have or as long but I was lapping them. Judgement came over me – what the heck have you been doing for the past 12 months with your races and training? I am a Type A and have embraced, FOR MYSELF, the longer I am out here running the faster I plan to be. I sprint during boot camp and have gotten better. Every time I step out on the street to run I plan to return home a wee bit earlier even travelling the same distance. I don’t even consider myself a runner b/c it is not the center of my workout. Weights and body weight exercises are the core (no pun intended). But I had certain expectation and have to admit I was surprised when folks talked about walking a 1/2 marathon. I think it is because I had preconceived notions that when you participate in a 1/2 marathon you RUN IT! I mean who wants to be out there that long? Not me but I have also learned not to PROJECT my goals and expectations on others. A 1/2 marathon finish is a finish. I have never even attempted it so who knows WHAT I would do. Walk, Jog, Sprint……RUN…..not sure what I would do to run 13.1 miles. I never ran more than 6. I commend those who get in, jump in, and FINISH PERIOD! I am learning everyone’s goals are different and I applaud you all for meeting whatever goal you have set for yourself. Hats off and finally no longer any judgment…from me. #nojudgement.
    Diatta recently posted..Wanna Grab a Quickie? The 2 Minute Workout that Will Kick Your Butt!My Profile

  • Even though I was REALLY happy about my half marathon PR from this past weekend… it was completely unexpected! I had such a bad time with my training plan, that I had absolutely no expectations about the race. I’ve been so upset in the past if I was slower at a race and it is just stressful and takes the fun out of running! When I start to worry about my times or compare my times to others, it just makes me crazy and I start to really dread training. I need to just calm it down and enjoy it 🙂
    Holly @ Pink-Runner.com recently posted..New Half Marathon PR!!My Profile

  • The whole “pity party” weirdness is taking place with some group of runners I am luckily not associated with, and hope not to be. Runners may be disappointed, and may talk about it or not, but some of those comments from their “friends” are the furthest thing from helpful. It could really get dangerous, this pressure to PR. So much has to do with conditions, and so many other factors. This makes me so thankful to have awesome, encouraging running friends who would never belittle me or feed any kind of low self-esteem beast. We all need to run happy! 🙂

  • Timely post as I am coming off of a bad race that I expected to PR and medal in and I did neither?? Still kicking my own butt on that one – I think a previous poster said it best “motivators are different for everyone” and I also think motivations can change. When I first started out weight loss was my only goal, then running instead of walking then a race, then a better time and on and on. At this point PR’s are my personal yardstick for improving as an athlete – and I stress personal yardstick. Like you said the beauty of running is in thr competition against self – we ALL as runners need to remember that. Great post – got me thinking on a Tuesday night;-)

  • I was just happy to have FINISHED my first 5K. I don’t care about time, or beating myself, or any of that. Granted, I’m a super-new runner and am still getting used to it via C25K (for the second time) so I won’t feel like I’m going to die at the Color Vibe run in June (yeah, I signed up for a second 5k, *SMH*). I am more concerned, at this point, with just getting some stamina going so I don’t stop a few minutes in.

    Thank you for this entry. Makes me feel a WHOLE lot better.
    Julie the Workaholic recently posted..Hog Wild 5K Mud Run – Lessons LearnedMy Profile

  • […] ran. I loved every second of it. I got my medal. And for you PR-crazy people out there, yes, I did that, too. But oh-so-importantly, I also earned the title, Runner of […]